Living in a container? It will be family’s castle


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – If your home is your castle, who would have thought they could build their castle by stacking shipping containers on a vacant lot?

That is what Ignacio Villa and his wife are doing at a formerly property in Buffalo’s Black Rock section, “We are going to have a pretty small space to live in but one that is adequate,” said Villa, “and I think, very nice.”

While it seems like a low cost way of grabbing their piece of the American Dream, “Nacho”, as his friends call him, said the homebuilding project is going over budget.

“We did not expect to have to pay an architect to do our drawings, and also things like hooking up our sewer and water to the city. That is a huge expense.”

The three metal shipping containers will form a one bedroom home, with kitchen, living room, and a bathroom. The second floor is for storage.

Killian Voigt, owner of Killian’s Welding Service, is making it all happen with his torch, “I welded the boxes together. I’ve made the window frames, the door frames–welded them in. I am the metal man, that’s about it. I don’t like wood, I don’t like drywall, I don’t like insulation. I like working with steel.”

The Villa’s are actually building the house from the outside in. Once the outer shell is water tight, they will be putting up the studs, the insulation, and the drywall to keep the house nice and cozy—no matter what the weather.

Ignacio said of the house, “It could be a freezer or an oven, depending on the season, so we have to make sure that it gets properly insulated so that it is comfortable to be inside.”

The house is being built diagonally on the Villas’ lot, to make full use of a big tree, and to maximize the space they can grow food in their yard.

Nacho credits his Common Council member, Joe Golombek, for steering this unconventional homebuilding project through the city’s myriad building regulations.

Golombek said, with the city’s housing values up by about 20%, prospective homeowners need to get creative, “There’s some people that want a smaller piece of land, there’s some people that want bigger pieces of land. So I think that this makes us realize Buffalo is not a “one size fits all” city.”

Container homes are gaining in popularity in other parts of the country, and Buffalo’s Planning Board actually approved a box house in the Old First Ward, last year, but apparently the builder has yet to start on it.

Ignacio Villa and his wife seem to thrive on creativity. They also own what is called a “tiny house”– and it is tiny–in Vermont.

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